A Picture of Policy: An analysis of how the media framed Scottish Government public health policy in 2018, and what were the potential implications of that on public perception
Media and food choice can both be considered to be key cultural identifiers, and are often divided across socio-economic lines. Scotland is known for health problems pertaining to diets high in sugar and alcohol, and the Government has made a point of working towards improved public health within the last two years. This study focuses on the Sugar Tax and Minimum Unit Pricing, and how they were interpreted by the media most often consumed by the Scottish public in 2018. Critical Discourse Analysis and thematic review is utilised to identify overarching narratives, and bring to light the ways in which the media we consume can impact upon our food choices, and therefore our health. Both the Sugar Tax and Minimum Unit Pricing were considered to be fairly controversial public health policies, and how this controversy was seized upon by certain factions of the media at the time of their implementation. A total of 49 articles were reviewed, spanning 6 Newspapers. The argument that they negatively impact the lives of the poor and remove their choice was found to be a key narrative. Whilst a clear difference in tone, structure and language use was identified, there was not the expected divide in narrative between the tabloids and broadsheets. Surprisingly, the majority of papers examined came out in favour of the policies, and often called for their extension, with the exception of the Scottish Sun. It is noteworthy, then, that the perceived negatives of these policies and the controversy surrounding them remain lodged in the nation’s psyche.